Tag Archives: Original Sin

“Consider” This

"Consider" This (CaD 2 Ki 5) Wayfarer

Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said to himself, “My master was too easy on Naaman, this Aramean, by not accepting from him what he brought. As surely as the Lord lives, I will run after him and get something from him.”
2 Kings 5:20 (NIV)

I’ve been working on a message I’m scheduled to give this Sunday morning among my local gathering of Jesus followers. One of the concepts on which I’ve been meditating is the idea of “consideration.” There is a subtle theme in the Jesus story and the Great Story’s teaching regarding what disciples of Jesus are to “consider” and what we are not to “consider.”

Today’s chapter is a fantastic example.

An Aramean military officer had some kind of incurable skin disease (FYI: The Hebrew word that gets translated into English as “leprosy” has a much broader meaning and could mean any number of skin issues or diseases). He comes bearing an extraordinary amount of money and gifts and visits Elisha, asking to be healed. Through intermediaries, Elisha instructs him to dip himself in the Jordan River seven times, which he eventually does, and he is healed. Elisha sends word to the man to keep his gifts and go home.

As I meditated on the story, I thought about what Elisha was considering that motivated his words and actions. Elisha, considering the big picture of what God is trying to do at that moment, wants this Aramean (a foreigner dedicated to Aramean pagan gods) to know that the God of Abraham, Moses, David, and Israel is the one true God. He chooses not to even meet the man in person because he wants no credit for the miracle, and he doesn’t want the man to focus on Elisha, but on the God of Elisha. Finally, Elisha refuses any gifts or payment because he considers that he has done nothing to earn these things, and he’s not in the business of miracles-r-us. He was just doing what the Lord instructed. He considers God his master. He is just a servant doing what he’s been told.

The officer leaves, and the scene switches to focus on Elisha’s servant Gehazi.

First, Gehazi considers to himself all of the silver and fine clothes that the Aramean had brought. He then considers that this Aramean is a foreigner and an enemy. He considers why this pagan Aramean should have such wealth and fine things instead one of God’s chosen people. In his considerations, Gehazi comes to the conclusion that he deserves a little bit of the spoils for himself.

Gehazi then runs after the Aramean. He lies to the Aramean about prophets arriving from a distance and his master Elisha commanding him to ask for silver and clothes for the two prophets.

Gehazi then takes the ill-gotten plunder and hides it.

Finally, when asked where he’s been, Gehazi lies to his master and claims not to have gone anywhere.

What a contrast. Elisha’s words and actions were in consideration of what God, his Lord, is doing and desiring in the larger context of the political and spiritual landscape of the people of Israel and their rulers. Elisha acts as a humble servant who sees everything through consideration of his master and what his master desires.

Gehazi, on the other hand, reflects the original sin:

When the Woman [Eve] saw that the tree looked like good eating and realized what she would get out of it—she’d know everything!—she took and ate the fruit and then gave some to her husband, and he ate.
Genesis 3:6 (MSG)

He sees the silver and fine things that the Aramean brought with him. He considers how awesome it would be to have some for himself. In doing so he does not consider his master’s intentions, his master’s wishes, or what his master will do if he finds out what he has done. Gehazi considers his own selfish desires as everything while considering his master Elisha’s desires nothing.

Welcome to the human condition.

In the quiet this morning, I find myself convicted. How often are my daily, moment-by-moment considerations about myself, from my lizard brain survival instincts to my envy of others, my desire to have what others have, and my lust after the things of this world? How different was Jesus’ example:

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!

Philippians 2:5-8 (NIV)

And so, I find myself sitting in the quiet considering the day ahead. Will I consider this day about me and my personal needs, wants, and desires? Or will I consider Jesus’ example, humble myself, act as a servant, and consider others’ needs ahead of my own?

If you know anyone who might be encouraged by today’s post, please share.

Entering a World of Pain

Entering a World of Pain (CaD Gen 3) Wayfarer

“And I will put enmity
    between you and the woman…”

Genesis 3:15 (NIV)

A number of years ago, I was asked to speak to a chapel service at the local Christian high school. I was asked specifically to talk about pornography as I had been very open about my own story of being exposed to it at a young age and the addictive struggles it grew into. I thought it went well. One of the teachers commented afterwards that it would forever be remembered as the first time the word “masturbation” was uttered in a chapel service. Come to think of it, I’ve never been invited back.

One of the things I talked about in that message was the basic spiritual implications of pornography that are rooted in today’s chapter and what theologians call “the fall.” Adam and Eve are good, innocent, and streaking around the Garden of Eden naked without a thought or care. Then the evil one enters and we get the first glimpse of what has become his well-worn playbook:

First, get them to question what God has said:
“Did God really say…?”

Second, deny, minimize and diminish the consequences:
“You will not certainly die”

Third, make God out to be the bad guy and killjoy:
“For God knows that when you eat of it…”

Fourth, make the false promise of power, independence, and freedom:
“…your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God.”

Eve is then enticed by the unholy trinity of temptation:

The lust of the flesh:
“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food…”

The lust of the eyes:
“…and pleasing to the eye…”

The pride of life:
“…and desirable for gaining wisdom…”

(Note: cross-reference 1 John 2:15, and btw: the three temptations the evil one used on Jesus were the exact same flesh, eyes, pride tactic. Again, it’s a well-worn playbook.)

The consequence of the disobedience was immediate and organic. Shame replaced innocence. Relationship was broken. Then God arrives and pronounces to Adam and Eve that they are entering a world of pain and, eventually, death. For the man, it means the pain of labor to survive in a dog-eat-dog world of never-ending obstacles. For the woman, it means pain in childbirth and a constant struggle against subjugation and misogyny. For the evil one, God announces that there will be a unique enmity and hatred between him and women, and the prophetic pronouncement that one day it will be a woman’s offspring who will “crush your head.”

Which brings me back to that chapel service several years ago. Rather than approaching the subject of pornography from the usual surface level and shaming arguments of purity culture, I opted to approach it from the depths of the overarching spiritual conflict of good and evil, God and anti-God, that began in today’s chapter.

As I have progressed in my spiritual journey and have been surrounded by women (see yesterday’s post), the more acutely I have observed this unique enmity God pronounces between the evil one and the woman. The evil one, once the most beautiful of God’s angels, hates – dare I say, envies – the woman for her unique beauty “in the image of God.” The evil one, hating the life that God creates, hates the woman for being the one through whom human life perpetuates. And so, the evil one embraces his hatred of the woman and says to himself:

“Let me take the woman in all of her beauty, strength, complexity, and purpose and reduce her to a simple two-dimensional object of optical and sexual lust. I might even convince her that doing so will give her power, even freedom.

“Let me take the act which produces and perpetuates God’s gift of life and transform it into empty, yet addictive, pleasure for profit which produces shame, grows ever more violent, painful, and degrading, and actually diminishes the perpetuation of life while subverting God’s natural order.

“Let me, once again, offer the woman the opportunity to be like God. This time I will give her the power freedom to pronounce that the life inside her is not really a life at all. In her desire for pleasure, power, independence, and freedom, God’s unique and beautiful ‘vessel of life’ shall become my agent of death.”

A few weeks ago on my Wayfarer Weekend podcast, I asked my guest, Dr. Bob Laurent, what some of the meta themes he’s observed in his life journey as he approaches his mid 70s. He commented that we shouldn’t be surprised by the world descending into confusion and chaos because that’s exactly what the Great Story says will happen. The “prince of this world,” the evil one, is still at work to turn, twist, and transform:

God’s love into hatred.
God’s joy into depression.
God’s peace into conflict.
God’s patience into demand that everything to be fast and immediate.
God’s kindness into meanness and antagonism
God’s goodness into evil.
God’s gentleness into raw, destructive power.
God’s faithfulness into rejection.
God’s self-control into insatiable lust for every appetite.
God’s order into chaos.
God’s oneness into division.
God’s Life into death.

The Sage of Ecclesiastes reminds me that while things rapidly change on the surface of things, at the spiritual root of all things, there is absolutely nothing new under the sun.

If you know anyone who might be encouraged by today’s post, please share.